Kenya Kanake

The Kanake Co-op produces some of Kenya's most spectacular coffees, and this year's AA lot is a shining example of what a Kenya should taste like. It is situated at 4000-5000 feet altitude (which is extraordinarily high for Kenya) and this lot is strictly sorted twice to remove defects and have all same-sized beans for even roasting. The estate grows only SL-28 and Ruiru varietals (SL-28 is the one with that black currant, red wine taste, that you find in the classic legendary Kenya coffees) SL-28 is a low-producing and hard to grow plant, but the farmers who grow them are well-rewarded at auction for their effort.

This bean is pretty easy to roast. What I try for is slightly more than a City roast, but not quite a Full City roast. If you're a couple degrees too light, you get more tartness, and if you are a couple degrees too dark you get less juiciness. But right at the sweet spot you will taste a coffee that starts with tart currant/blackberry, turns into juicy red raspberry and has that Kenya acidic sparkle dancing on your tongue, and then it ends with a tart grape dryness much like a dry red wine feels in your mouth. As it cools, I also pick up subtle waves of lemon, grapeftuit, and honey. It has a full body and is clearly special, and overall refreshing. The coffee also does very well as you roast it near a french roast level. I would take it 35 seconds past the beginning of the second cracks to get a french roast that has more-than-average body and spectacular undertones of sweet currant.